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Workplace mental health at Bell Canada

Rationale and development:

As part of the Bell ‘Let’s Talk’ mental health initiative launched in 2010, Bell Canada committed to leading by example in workplace mental health practices. Bell actively participated in the development and early adoption of the Canadian Voluntary National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, which helped guide programme development.

To address mental health in the workplace, existing vendor relationships were leveraged to help deliver elements of the programme helping to ensuring consistency and sustainability. The scope of the programme is national, available in the two official Canadian languages (English and French), and allows for flexibility to be customised to suit diverse workforce segments. Given that the employee base is dispersed across a large geographic expanse, an additional consideration was that the programme would use technology.


  • Bell's internal and external strategy is built on four pillars: anti-stigma, care and access, research, and workplace
  • The mental health programme under the workplace pillar adopts a continuum of care approach from prevention to support. Psychological factors are integrated in existing human resources and health and safety programmes
  • Prevention: Bell has three internal mental health awareness and promotion campaigns per year; dedicated mental health intranet site with information, videos and weekly articles; mandatory mental health leadership training for all people leaders (managers) and targeted training for Health and Safety and Union representatives
  • Support: Enhanced support is provided to employees and family members facing mental health difficulties. This includes employee and family assistance services and enhanced benefits coverage for psychological care. Bell has adopted a multidisciplinary support approach to facilitate return to work


  • A number of stakeholders are actively engaged in the development and implementation of the mental health programme.  This includes employee involvement across a number of business functions across the company and senior leadership, external mental health experts and vendors including partnering with an insurance carrier involved in managing short-term disability claims, and the community. Integral to the success of designing and delivering a mental health programme was having clear executive commitment by the CEO

Monitoring and effectiveness

  • Over 90 KPIs are measured quarterly and assessed for trends and programme improvements
  • Mental health metrics are included in health and safety dashboards for senior reviews and reporting is a requirement to ensure compliance
  • A double-digit decrease of mental health short-term disability claims has been observed over the last five years

Key takeaways, lessons learnt and points of interest

  • ​Early detection of mental health issues enables strategies to prevent and reduce disability and allow employees to remain at work while addressing mental health issues
  • Executive commitment initiated by the CEO was integral to successful development and delivery
  • Mandatory training is auto-assigned to leaders with timeline alerts to ensure uptake
  • Mental health resources are available on the company's intranet which helps build mental health literacy, identify local community resources and combat stigma
  • Care and support are available through employee and family assistance programme and psychological care benefits – 24/7 coverage with multiple modalities including virtual counselling and apps to facilitate help-seeking
  • Programmes to address mental health are designed to ensure they can successfully respond to a diverse workforce. Business units are expected to leverage programme resources and tools which can be customised
  • The company's decision to actively participate in the development and early adoption of the Canadian Voluntary National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace has served to strengthen its leadership as an organisation committed to addressing mental health. Bell shares its learnings with other organisations to help increase uptake of workplace mental health practices

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© 2019 © MQ: Transforming mental health 2016 | Registered charity in England / Wales: 1139916 & Scotland: SC046075 | Company number: 7406055